Troubling Speed of Global Warming
Professor James Lovelock is making similar warnings as those found in this blog lately, that the rate of observable global heating appears to far exceed even the most pessimistic predictions [ark | moreark] made by the cautious, conservative and at times political IPCC climate science process. He expresses concern that the speed with which climate change [search] is progressing will lead to ecological and social crises as “6 to 8 billion people face diminishing food and water supplies in an increasingly intolerable climate”. Earlier this year the IPCC concluded in their fourth assessment that the full range of projected temperature increase by the end of the century was 1.1 to 6.4 degrees Celsius, with a best estimate range of 1.8 to 4.0 degrees Celsius (linked Guardian article differs).
Yet Professor Lovelock believes even this quite substantial and dramatic rate of global warming understates the speed with which climate is changing now. IPCC predictions made earlier this year appear to be dramatically outdated already, as global heating impacts have revealed themselves in actuality rather than models. Troublingly Lovelock suggests this means that staggered, slow efforts to reduce emissions and promote sustainable development will fail due to sheer inertia and lack of time. He states “we are at war with the Earth and as in a blitzkrieg, events proceed faster than we can respond … For this reason alone, it is probably too late for sustainable development… implementing Kyoto or some super-Kyoto is most unlikely to succeed” largely because of climatic feedbacks.
Professor Lovelock believes IPCC computer models underestimate the magnitude of climate change by failing to consider manners in which living organisms release and absorb greenhouse gases; failing to account adequately for climate impacts of deforestation, marine population reductions and ocean acidification. Further, I note IPCC predictions not only generally exclude the possibility of the most extreme abrupt and runaway climate change [search] outcomes, but they also fail to adequately take positive climate change feedbacks into account. And they only go out for 100 years, what happens after that?
The point of the matter is that there exists great uncertainty [ark] regarding the rate and scale of impacts of climate change, that may not ever be able to be predicted prior to being revealed by their occurrence. Whether or not you agree with the assessment that we are farther along towards abrupt and runaway climate change than generally acknowledged, these more pessimistic assessments need to be given more prominence, as they have been excluded as international scientists and governments seek concensus rather than truth and the full range of possibilities. It may or may not be too late to embrace emissions cuts and sustainable development of the magnitude needed in the time we have. Yet clearly we need to be speaking of emission cut goals for 2015 and not 2050; and outlawing known climate culprits as we purse alternatives.